Revolutionising mill relining safety

Bradken’s suite of MillSafe solutions has been described as a game-changer in mill relining safety.

A grinding mill is a hazardous environment to work within.

Having identified tasks in the relining process that require the mill team to access the interior of the mill, Bradken has developed solutions to remove personnel from these hazardous locations.

Enter Bradken’s MillSafe Solutions.

Relining a grinding mill can take in excess of 100 hours to complete.

The grinding mill needs to be isolated and safe for people to enter a confined space. The worn liners are removed, and the mill shell is cleaned in preparation for new liner installation. The new steel liners are installed, and these can weigh up to five tonnes each.

Traditionally, steel liners are bolted in manually from inside the mill, a process that involves workers operating near heavy machinery and suspended loads for hours at a time.

“The nature of grinding mills means they are classified as a confined space,” Bradken principal product manager Craig Faulkner told Australian Mining.

“During a reline, the mill requires good lighting and ventilation to create a safe working environment. Furthermore, the use of heavy equipment during the relining process contributes to a highly hazardous area of work for the reline crew.”

Bradken’s MillSafe Solutions offering helps to reduce the exposure to potential hazards by improving the mill relining process, making it safer and faster.

The suite comprises the following products: MillSafe Bolting System, MillSafe Backing, MillSafe Liner Location Stripes and MillSafe Combined Corner Liners. These are all compatible with autogenous (AG), semi-autogenous (SAG) and ball mills.

The Bradken MillSafe Bolting System allows liners to be bolted on from outside of the mill.

“By installing the bolts from outside, there is no need for maintenance personnel to be in the vicinity of the reline machine during liner positioning, making it a much safer practice,” Faulkner said.

The MillSafe bolting system minimises worker exposure to hazardous environments.
Image: Bradken

Typically, the internal mill shell is lined with a 6mm rubber sheet to protect the mill shell and create a consistent seating area for the steel liners, with workers required to clean the mill shell and repair damaged rubber sections during relining. With Bradken’s MillSafe Backing that’s no longer the case.

“MillSafe Backing is an integral coating on the fit face of our liners, eliminating the need for rubber sheet repairs and reducing customer maintenance costs,” Faulkner said.

“In addition, MillSafe Backing wraps around the side of the liners to eliminate the need for rubber filler strips, removing another process where personnel have to enter the mill.”

Bradken’s innovative MillSafe Combined Corner Liners are cast as part of the liner, therefore eliminating loose corner liners, and eliminating risks posed by traditional products. This also has the benefit of reducing overall liner mass.

Finally, Bradken’s MillSafe Liner Location Stripes provide visual guidance to position the liners and deliver a safer and more efficient liner install.

“Bradken’s focus is to innovate and provide our customers with a high level of engineered solutions that improve mill safety, minimise downtime and optimise performance,” Faulkner said.

“Our suite of MillSafe Solutions is a testament to that.”

Bradken analysed the benefit of the MillSafe Combined Corner Liners on a 40-foot SAG mill.

This resulted in the reduction of 60 liners, saving an estimated 12 hours in relining time, amounting to an entire shift. It also supported an increase in mill availability, improving the operation’s profitability.

Faulkner said the MillSafe suite really came into its own two years ago when one of Bradken’s customers was looking to fully automate the relining process for a grinding mill.

“This aligned with our vision and the opportunity to improve mine site safety standards and reline efficiency across the global mining industry,” Faulkner said.

“The project reached its goal last year by partnering with our customer and relining equipment suppliers to successfully achieve the world’s first partially automated installation of grinding mill liners.”

Bradken’s success with the project sets the company up to flourish in a future geared towards automation. Such solutions save customers time and money and ensure workers get home safely every day.

“Miners are always looking for ways to reduce risk to their personnel and the MillSafe suite of products presents that opportunity,” Faulkner said.

Bradken continues to look for partnership opportunities with its customers to deliver solutions that are not only sustainable, but also optimise safety and performance.

This feature appeared in the March 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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